At any given moment you have the power to say 'this is not how the story is going to end' Millar
April 24th marks the beginning of Fashion Revolution Week, it's a global movement encouraging action around one vital question 'Who made my clothes'? The mission is a powerful one, to change the second most polluting industry into one that values people, the environment, creativity and profits in equal measure, and it focuses on encouraging individuals to make these changes. But as a founder of a social justice enterprise in the slow clothing market I've come to realise that even when our choices represent life and death, people want change, but not if it means changing! A change in clothes will only be accomplished if we can get people to change their minds (anyone around teenagers will immediately relate).
Author's writing Aged 7
The Middle Way
The three most internationally read stories could provide an important clue as to why individuals struggle with their ability to enact powerful choices, whilst The Koran, The Bible and Chairman Mao's Little Red Book provide sage advice on human relationships and power, they all centre on a higher power that lies beyond the individual. The genuinely powerful notion that we are directly responsible for the way we act towards each other and for the fate of our planet needs to come back into fashion. Our slow clothing label is called slumwear108 to represent the immense beauty that can be found within the slums of India, it's our attempt to demonstrate Omnipresence, that we can create clothing that is both good for people and planet. The sooner we remember our imaginative capacity to create whatever we want to see in our world, the closer we become to knowing we can indeed change the stories we no longer wish to believe.
Self portrait: India Stibilj Aged 8
One book changed the way I saw my world, I remember finishing it with an out loud declaration that 'my life was forever changed' (I've since learnt that books don't change your life, your actions do), it was Joey Green's The Zen of Oz - a spiritual reinterpretation of The Wizard of Oz. The Hero Journey was presented as a completely inner one, the purpose of life was to travel within and remember the most powerful tool you have to reimagine your story - your creative spirit. It's a message that relates to everybody on earth, regardless of income, age, gender or religion, you have a creative ability, a spark, that is capable of igniting all possibilities or as Dorothy said "If ever I go looking for my heart's desire again, I won't look any further than my own backyard, because if it isn't there, I never really lost it to begin with'. Truth is, we can never lose our creative spark (our minds yes, but not our spark) we simply forget the most powerful resource we have to change our story.
Why do people forget or resist the ability to change their story? Having taught high school students it's almost certainly true that even when they have inspiring ideas to do something innovative they struggle to show up. The fear of being rejected, ridiculed, or being different keeps them quiet. How ironic that the thought of death kills us! At what point does going on a bear hunt move from having swishy swashy fun into a killjoy? Perhaps it's when we forget our essential self - our creative spirit. We get wrapped in identities and mistake them for who we are. It's the same limited consciousness that believes a child born in the slums 'has nothing' or a child born into white privilege somehow has everything - mistaken identities become the pre-face for our story and masks our ability to change them. It's why we need to be reminded that our life story is not saved as a PDF, our inner creative spirit is infinitely capable of coming up with renewed versions of ourselves and renewed solutions to our problems.
The work of The Possibility Project is never to tell people how to live their lives or what clothes they should be buying, it's simply to demonstrate that there are many versions of doing things. At the heart of what we do is an intrinsic trust in the power of our creative spirit to make great choices for self, and when we do, our greatness will naturally flow into other people's lives. Our slow clothing philosophy is best demonstrated by the protagonist in Dr Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham, when he says 'Sam! If you will let me be, I will try them. You will see'. When we let people be who they are, they are more likely to make empowered choices for themselves and be happier with those choices.
We have worked with many inspiring people who are actively changing their world for the better, and they all have one thing in common, they look at a problem and say 'how can we do this differently', their creative belief in possibility has always proven to be enough to get the job done. It just might be it's all we need, a belief in possibility and its empowering to know we already have the resource needed to make that change - our creative spirit. Do yourself a favour, any story that tells you that you can't change the way things are done - save it as fiction (just not in PDF!).
Click here to read more about Fashion Revolution and our slow clothing label slumwear108